In which strange lights are seen in the woods known as Goblin's Copse, where the Tycho Project is located. This is a radio telescope operated by Prof. Nicholas Skinner, designed to seek evidence of extraterrestrial intelligence. He works there alone, accompanied by his daughter Lucy. He goes outside to investigate but disappears. As Lucy searches for him, something captures her...
The following morning, Sarah Jane Smith interrupts her son Luke and his friend Clyde, who are using the computer Mr Smith to play a reenactment of the Battle of Waterloo for a school project. Sarah wants to know about the lights which were reported in the vicinity of the radio telescope.
Meanwhile, across the road, an important letter has arrived for Alan Jackson. It is a job offer, which would mean him having to move to Washington DC. He informs Maria, and tells her that they will only go if she agrees to it. Maria goes to see Sarah, but withholds the information about the potential move. They all head off to Goblin's Copse to investigate the lights.
The Tycho Project appears to be deserted. They then come upon Lucy, who tells them that her father has disappeared. Luke and Clyde agree to go and have a look around, and Sarah warns them to keep out of the woods. Once they have gone, Sarah asks Maria to tell her what is troubling her, and she informs her of the job offer letter. Sarah's attitude towards her then changes, becoming colder and more detached. Back in Bannerman Road, Alan informs his ex-wife Chrissie of the new job. The boys disobey Sarah's instructions and enter the woods. They are being watched by an invisible figure.
Prof. Skinner suddenly appears in the building, and Sarah observes that he is acting very strangely, and insists that she leave. She is called into the woods by Luke and Clyde, as they have discovered a large invisible object hidden there. Sarah uses her sonic lipstick to make it visible, and is shocked to see that it is a Sontaran spacecraft. The occupant of the ship - Commander Kaagh - appears and attacks them. They split up and hide. Sarah and Clyde return to the radio telescope, and discover that Skinner is under the Sontaran's mental control. Kaagh arrives, and informs them that he is the sole survivor of the 10th Sontaran battle fleet, which was destroyed by the Doctor after their attempt to poison the planet using ATMOS. He is going to take revenge by using the Tycho Project to disable the world's satellite network, causing them to crash onto nuclear power stations across the globe. When he threatens Clyde, Sarah attempts to intervene, but Kaagh shoots her...
She is only stunned. Kaagh wants to take her back to Sontar as his captive, otherwise he might be deemed a failure in the eyes of his people. Clyde manages to escape and joins Maria and Luke. Held in a storeroom with Lucy, Sarah begins to work on a device which will disable Kaagh's transmission to the satellites. The others go to the spaceship and break in. Maria tells Luke of her father's job offer. Luke devises a cocktail of chemicals which might disable the Sontaran. They know that they will have activated an intruder alarm, but hope that this will lure Kaagh away so that Sarah and Lucy can be rescued. Sarah activates her device and Skinner comes to investigate. They escape and lock him in the storeroom, then go to the control room to try to sabotage what he has been doing.
In the woods, Maria decides to call on her dad for help - asking him to go to Sarah's attic to consult Mr Smith on how to deal with Sontarans. When he does so, learning about the vulnerability of their probic vent, he is shocked to discover that Chrissie has followed him. Alan is forced to quickly tell her of their daughter's new secret life. Chrissie insists on accompanying Alan as he drives out to Goblin's Copse. Luke manages to overcome the signal to the satellites after working out that three-fingered aliens would use a mathematics based on the number 6. However, Lucy has been under Kaagh's control the whole time, and she undoes Luke's sabotage. Kaagh then threatens Maria, but he is struck on the back of the collar by a high-heeled shoe, wielded by Chrissie. She receives an electric shock, which stuns her. The radio transmission to the satellites is stopped for good. Kaagh is taken back to his ship a prisoner, humiliated that he was beaten by a woman and by children. His ship is preset to take him back to Sontar. He will be in deep space by the time he breaks free of his bonds.
A few week's later, Maria and her dad are ready to move away from Bannerman Road. Sarah is apologetic for being so distant towards Maria, as she was finding it hard to cope with losing a friend. Everyone thought that Chrissie had lost her memory when she received the electric shock, but she reveals to Sarah that she remembers it all - but will never speak of it. Maria and Alan leave...
The Last Sontaran was written by Phil Ford, and was first broadcast on 29th September 2008. (The first episode was shown on BBC 1, with the second following it immediately on the CBBC channel). It marks the start of the second series of The Sarah Jane Adventures, and acts as a sequel to the Sontaran two part story from the middle of Doctor Who's fourth series - The Sontaran Stratagem / The Poison Sky. The story sees the departure of the Jackson family from the series. This is because actress Yasmin Paige, who played Maria, was in the middle of her GCSE's, and wanted to concentrate on her studies. She and dad Alan (Joseph Millson) will have a cameo appearance later in the season, when they are contacted over the internet, but this is the last time we see Chrissie (Juliet Cowan).
Kaagh is played by Anthony O'Donnell. He is the survivor of a special tactical unit belonging to the fleet which the Doctor destroyed. This is why he has stealth technology - able to make himself and his ship invisible - and flying surveillance units (the lights which draw Sarah and her friends into the adventure). O'Donnel was recently seen in Russell T Davies' A Very English Scandal (playing Leo Abse), and was a regular in the comedy drama Stella.
The only other guest artists are Prof. Skinner and his daughter Lucy. He is played by Ronan Vibert, and she by Clare Thomas. Vibert has a number of genre credits to his name, having appeared in Penny Dreadful and Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell.
Overall, a great start to the new series, with the inclusion of an alien from the parent show, and a surprise departure for one of the main characters. Part one works best, as the second half is mostly capture / escape stuff.
Things you might like to know:
- Sontarans were previously mentioned in the first series, when Bea Nelson-Stanley mentioned having encountered them with her husband back in the 1930's (Eye of the Gorgon).
- Sontarans are a significant foe for Sarah, as they were the first aliens she ever encountered, barring the Doctor - meeting Commander Linx in The Time Warrior, then Field-Major Styre in The Sontaran Experiment not long after.
- Sarah keeps Kaagh's blaster in her attic afterwards, and this will provide a plot point for a later story when Clyde features it in one of his paintings (Mona Lisa's Revenge).
- The Sontaran spaceship was a reused prop, having previously been employed as the escape pod which the Doctor and Donna used to escape the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in The Fires of Pompeii.
- No mention is made of the traumatic events of The Stolen Earth / Journey's End, despite this adventure coming after that story (as Luke mentions Maria still being in England, but away from London when the Daleks invade). Kaagh has therefore been plotting his revenge for some time.